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The Getty Alchemy Collection

Materials from the Research Library, Getty Research Institute located in Los Angeles, CA.

The Getty Alchemy Collection includes books from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries dealing with the art and science of alchemy. Its core is formed by the Manly Palmer Hall collection, acquired in 1995 from the estate of the Los Angeles theosophist, who founded the Philosophical Research Society in Los Feliz. Originally acquired for its contribution to the history of visual symbolism, alchemy is now also recognized as the key to the history of materiality in the arts.

In addition to their influential allegorical and fantastic imagery, Alchemical texts record recipes and techniques for applications across the visual arts, including pigments, dyes, metal-alloys, and effects in glass, as well as the acidic washes of etching and lithography. Alchemy, called “the great art” in Medieval Europe, also speaks to essential ideas about human creativity and the relationship between Art and Nature which have infused the history of art from antiquity to the present day.


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